"Go to the Ant - Consider Her Ways"
Out in this "bush country" ants are very plentiful and are a real pest. One morning I got out of bed at 4:20 a.m. to go on an early morning appointment for preaching, and before I could light a lantern ants were biting me. Upon investigation I found that "line ants" had invaded our house. They form a line about an inch wide, and travel over and under and around almost any obstacle. There will be millions of them in a line extending for great distances. On the morning mentioned above they had formed a line around our bed, into the bath room and around the toilet, then back into the bed room and the line even extended up over the bed on tile mosquito net. It was a rather harrowing experience. I hurried out on my appointment and left Alice in bed, surrounded by the ants. By the time she got up they had also gone into Roy's room. When they bite it hurts, but if you leave them alone and do not step too near the line they will not leave it to bother you.
The lesson Solomon had in mind in Prov. 6:6, when he said, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise," was a lesson in diligent industry. No doubt it needs to be observed even in the life of a Christian who would be fruitful. Jesus said that we are branches on the vine, and that if we bear no fruit we will be cut off and cast into the fire (see Jn. 15). But fruitfulness is no accident. If we hope to be a fruitful branch we need to consider the ways of the ant and imitate its industry. I have never seen an ant asleep! Always they move about with vigor and enthusiasm. They seem to be hurrying to a very important work. But the work of a Christian is the most important of all, yet we are often inclined to linger, to rest from our labors, to plod along as though time was unimportant.
If most Christians manifested the same attitude toward their secular work that they do toward their work as Christians they would lose their jobs quickly. On the other hand, if we would manifest the same enthusiasm for the Lord's work as we do for our secular work we would preach the gospel to the whole world in this generation! God has not commanded that we convert the world, but he has asked that we preach the truth to all people. This we could do if every Christian would imitate the ant!
If a Christian would consider the ant's actions and follow them, he would busily engage himself in study, prayer, benevolence, etc. Too many Christians can be classified as sluggards just as Solomon expressed it. They are too lazy to even pray except when someone leads them in a public prayer. (It does take time and diligence to really pray to God in secret.) They do not really study the word of God and meditate upon it, for it is easier to allow their thoughts to wander about in the world of materialism. They do not have the zeal to show compassion for the unfortunate, for it does take time, energy, money and patience to help those who cannot help themselves. To many Christians, worship is a burden, not a real privilege as it should be, and religious work is a matter of legal procedure and not an action that proceeds from a heart of love. (Let it be remembered that all religious work must be in harmony with lawGod's law-and that zeal must be directed by knowledge of truth. However, some who seem to have great zeal for truth fail to manifest the same zeal for the work which that truth demands.) In many cases the zeal that Christians do have is misdirected into pursuit of material things. Many Christians will give $30.00 for a good Bible for themselves but will only give $1.00 for tracts or Bibles for the lost. They will donate an "extra" twenty dollar bill for a new rug for the pulpit, but they will only give the unfortunate beggar a dime. Some churches will spend $400.00 or $500.00 for support of a preacher for a meeting within their own building, but will send a paltry few dollars to a preacher in a new field and expect him to work thirty days for it. Some preachers will hustle vigorously to promote themselves into bigger and better jobs, but have little time or energy to go out and seek the hard, new places of labor.
Zeal Plus Unity
But the ants have given me another good lesson. Just this morning I saw a group of them moving a small piece of bread. They were not just moving it across a floor, but up a perpendicular wall. In order to accomplish this, many of them worked together. They manifested the same zeal that always characterizes ants, but they also showed great unity in action. There were just as many ants around that piece of bread as could get around it. They all were pushing or pulling it in the same direction. Up, up, up it went, because they all worked together. I watched them intently a few moments and wished so much that brethren would just imitate them!
I am not advocating that brethren stifle their conscience to work with others. It is not my desire to say that we should engage in all work that all brethren do. For conscience sake I must refrain from that which is not clearly authorized by truth. However, in every area of agreement-in all that is in the class that "is right and cannot be wrong" because it is clearly taught in the New Testament, we could do well to imitate the unity of the ants. I think it is safe to say that the ants are not motivated by love, yet brethren are commanded to love one another, and our love for the Lord and for the truth should certainly cause us to desire such unity as will enable us to go forward together in full discharge of our duties and in fruitful work in the Lord's service.
(Note: If you are inclined to be critical of allowing ants to be in the house, it is because You do not live in tropical Africa.)
Truth Magazine IV:10, pp. 221-222